Barley, one of the world’s most important crops, ranks third in the United States and fourth worldwide among cereals in area of cultivation and quantity produced.

Researchers Timothy Close and Stefano Lonardi now will be able to advance their work on sequencing the barley genome (complete genetic blueprint) and breeding new barley varieties thanks to a two-year $1 million grant they received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (USDA/CSREES).

The project will build upon resources for physically mapping and sequencing barley genes that Close and Lonardi already have developed at UC Riverside from several USDA and National Science Foundation projects they have led.

“The long-term goal of our project is to sequence all barley genes and to greatly improve public access to this knowledge,” said Close, the principal investigator of the grant and a professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences.

A chance encounter at a campus reception in 2001 brought Close and Lonardi, the grant’s co-principal investigator and an associate professor of computer science and engineering, resulted in a research partnership that has brought nearly $3.5 million to UCR by way of grants, including the new USDA grant.